Supporting our wildlife

Supporting our wildlife

Helping support our wildlife
Forest Holidays

We recognise our responsibility to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the forests. To achieve this, we need to understand how they provide a home for flora and fauna and how we can support these ecosystems. This involves species monitoring, habitat creation and careful woodland management.

What 'supporting wildlife' means to Forest Holidays

At Blackwood Forest we are part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme and our locations are home to many other species, such as the purple emperor butterfly, pine martens, flycatchers and turtle doves. We work closely with Forestry England, Forest and Land Scotland, and Natural Resources Wales Wildlife Trusts and other ecological organisations to encourage, monitor and protect these species. By supporting scientific studies, we can contribute to the understanding of rare and threatened species and how they can be protected both on our locations and within the wider forest.

We believe in the principle of ‘ biodiversity net gain’ which means that our presence in the forest should go further than simply ensuring that biodiversity is unaffected. With the help of experts, we consider and study every location in detail and respond to its unique characteristics and the balance of opportunities for ecological enhancement. In the long term it should result in enhanced biodiversity, with a richer and more balanced ecosystem.

  • Our commitment to improving the biodiversity of Britain’s forests is wide-ranging and involves us in a huge number of ecological projects and activities, from monitoring butterfly numbers to supporting major species translocation projects, such as the reintroduction of Eurasian beavers in the Forest of Dean
  • We carry out ecological monitoring & enhancement across all our locations
  • Woodland management is carefully considered with the overall aim of creating new habitats to supporting increased biodiversity
  • Our Forest Rangers are encouraged to develop their knowledge of ecology and personal interests as our advocates of the forest
  • As part of our education programme, we engage our guests and local communities in our monitoring activities
  • Over the next 5 years, our Conservation Fund will support a minimum of 30 projects with Forestry England and local wildlife organisations including the Wildlife Trusts

Our conservation fund in action

  • Butterfly enhancement project

    Butterfly enhancement project

    Blackwood Forest, Hampshire: In partnership with Forestry England and Butterfly Conservation. The project in Basing Wood, Hampshire, has enhanced access for the local community, expanded wildlife habitat and improved public understanding of, and engagement with, wildlife conservation.

    Species supported: The project encourages a mix of butterflies, including the white-letter hairstreak, white admiral, purple emperor and grizzled skipper.

    • Tree felling and scrub management along butterfly and moth wildlife corridors
    • Creating small glades within the woodland
    • Management of forest meadows
    • Disease-resistant elm planting to benefit the white letter hairstreak
    • Ongoing monitoring of butterflies
    • Re-energising the local conservation volunteer network
  • Long eared owl surveys

    Long eared owl surveys

    Deerpark, Cornwall: In partnership with Forestry England and Hawk and Owl Trust. It's been a decade since Long Eared Owls were last surveyed in the South West of England. Now in a repeat of a 2009 survey, this project aims to give land managers a better understanding of the long-eared owl species distribution in the South West of England as well as allowing Forestry England and the Hawk and Owl Trust to monitor other nocturnal birds. It will inform future site management and it will provide an opportunity to engage and educate the public.

    Species supported: Long-eared owls are the UK’s rarest breeding owl and are very under-studied and under-recorded.

    Forest Holidays are part funding the long-eared owl surveys which are taking place at several locations in the UK’s Southwest peninsula, including one site close to our location at Deerpark, in Herodsfoot. We are taking part in the monitoring and it’s a great opportunity to engage guests and local visitors too.

  • Turtle dove project

    Turtle dove project

    Cropton & Keldy, North Yorkshire: In partnership with Forestry England, North York Moors National Park, and The North York Moors Forest Bird Study Group. European populations of the turtle dove have been in decline since the 1970s, but a survey of breeding birds begun in 1997 by the North York Moors Forest Bird Study Group shows that locally they are bucking the trend. This prompted a specific survey for turtle doves within Cropton Forest and a 1km buffer around existing known habitat. The project has improved an old Christmas tree plantation in Cropton Forest, in order to provide additional habitat for the birds.

    Species supported: The turtle dove is a spring migrant bird, arriving in our North Yorkshire forests from south of the Sahara Desert in April to breed. They are protected in the UK under part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 legislation (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) and in the European Union (EU) Birds Directive Annex II.

    Our work includes:

    • Creating a shallow scrape to provide a water source
    • Planting a hawthorn dominated hedge to create scrub for nesting habitat
    • Managing the grassland as a wildflower meadow, to increase the vegetation diversity and provide a food source (wildflower seed) for the turtle doves
  • Veteran tree protection

    Veteran tree protection

    Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire: In partnership with Forestry England and local volunteers. Veteran trees provide valuable habitat that has existed for centuries and their protection is vital. For people, they are inspiring and this project aims to ensure the public can continue to visit and enjoy these unique trees.

    Species supported: Parts of Sherwood Forest contain some of the oldest oak trees in the country. This on-going project is prolonging the health and vigour of the veteran oak trees and their associated and important saproxylic invertebrate populations within the Birklands Forest NNR & SSSI, approximately one mile from our Sherwood Forest location.

    Our work includes:

    • Re-haloing veteran trees
    • Re-tagging every veteran tree
    • Tree health assessments of the most at-risk veteran trees to identify arboricultural work needed
    • Carrying out arboricultural work on veteran oaks –phased over the next five years
    • Removing invasive turkey oak
    • Re-energising the local conservation volunteer network

Surveying Long Eared Owl

Can you make the sound of a Long Eared Owl? The rare species is thought to have declined significantly in the past century, but now funding from Forest Holidays' Conservation Fund is supporting Forestry England and the Hawk and Owl Trust in a major survey of the birds across South West Forests. It's a decade since they were last recorded and our visitors have been out with experts in Deerpark learning how to master their unique call.